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Oilers under Woodcroft are ‘putting the work in and they’re getting rewarded for it’



EDMONTON — It’s a two-step process when you are a coach taking over an NHL team midseason, the way Bruce Boudreau did in Vancouver or Jay Woodcroft has in Edmonton.

The first thing you need to acquire belongs to the players and has several pseudonyms: Respect. Buy-in. Belief.

It’s theirs, and you’ve got to make it yours.


In Edmonton, Woodcroft had a leg up because of the many relationships he had forged as an assistant coach with the Oilers from 2015-18, and with much of the rest of the Oilers roster as the head coach in Bakersfield for the past three-plus seasons.

The second thing you require begets the first: Success.

The changes Woodcroft has asked for has helped his team. Four in a row to be exact.

When it works, they buy in. Period.

“Everybody’s contributing. Everybody’s on the same page,” said winger Zach Hyman. “I think the forwards are helping the D coming through the middle, and the D are kind of able to hold their line and hold their gap. And I think that, as a forward on the other end, that’s frustrating when a team is able to keep you from entering the zone.”

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Never mind that Todd McLellan, Ken Hitchcock and Dave Tippett all asked for the same thing: five players connected to each other in every zone; forwards who backcheck hard to help the defencemen; and a spirit of playing for each other, not just with each other.

But because you are the new guy, the players are an open and slightly embarrassed palette, ready to prove that they can deliver the qualities to the new guy that the old guy somehow could not extract.

Look, it’s safe to say that Woodcroft is a little late to get a patent on instructions like, “Let’s make zone entries more difficult.” Or “How about we work a little harder here?”

However, the trust he has earned as that former assistant who helped the McDavids, Draisaitls and Nugent-Hopkins’ become better players still exists upon his return to the Oilers. And all those kids that played for him in Bakersfield — whose reward for listening to and learning from Woodcroft in the AHL was a job in the NHL — their ears are open as well.


So history has helped with the buy-in, and Woodcroft’s ability to decipher exactly what ails this Oilers team has led to a 4-0 start — also known as success.

“The style we’re asking our players to play is a demanding one,” Woodcroft said on Friday, just a few hours before his team boarded a charter to Winnipeg for Saturday afternoon’s game against the Jets. “There are principles in our game that we’re going to continue to hammer on, (but) I think you can positively reinforce some of the good things that are happening in the game.

“And for our players to be playing this style and to have success, I think It’s almost a virtuous loop. Because they’re putting the work in and they’re getting rewarded for it. They’re seeing the link between the work ethic and the results.”

From a Vicious Cycle to a Virtuous Loop.

If this keeps up, that will be the title for the book on the Oilers 2021-22 season.

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“I mean, new coaches and new systems and stuff … ,” began defenceman Cody Ceci. “I think the biggest thing is that guys are just, they’re buying in again. They’re really paying attention to detail, working really hard.”

Again, Dave Tippett asked for those qualities. But the fact the players stopped delivering them defines the failure between a coach and his roster.

It ends this way on every team for every coach. Some just last longer than others.

Woodcroft is not naïve to that. Not as a coach whose title does is officially prefaced with the word “interim.” But as a guy who is, nonetheless, not signed to be the Oilers head coach next season and beyond, and will not be if he does not earn that contract over the remainder of this season.

“Well, I think when I began as a head coach, I wanted to make sure I was going to be myself. So, I’m not going to try and be anybody that I’m not,” said the extraordinarily confident rookie bench boss, whose 1,000-plus games as an NHL assistant affords him that quality.


That job — especially when he was McLellan’s assistant here in Edmonton — has set the table for success now.

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“One of the best parts about being an assistant coach is the rapport that you create,” he said, “in the little conversations you have during extra work on and off the ice. I was able to create those relationships when I was an assistant coach here, and I don’t just turn them off because I’m now in the position that I’m in. There’s history.


“But to me,” he concluded, “the biggest difference between being an assistant coach and a head coach is the difference between having an opinion and being the one who has to make the final decision.”

So far he has made all the right calls, pushed all the right buttons.

Make it last, and he’ll be running training camp here next fall.

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Dwight Howard’s Taiwan Team Reportedly Wants Him To Take A Pay Cut



(Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Netflix)


Since leaving the NBA, Dwight Howard has become one of the biggest athletes playing international basketball.

Howard is a sensation in Taiwan and has brought his skill, size, and status to the country’s budding league.


But his new contract might force him to make quite a bit less than he’s used to.

According to, Howard’s team wants him to take a 65% pay cut on his next contract.

The team’s CEO said this is all part of the team’s new calculations and incentive package and will hopefully encourage Howard to play more.

The news agency says that Howard played 30 out of 30 games last season, missing those other ten games due to injury.

The new payment program proposed by the team would provide bonuses for winning and non-bonuses for not playing, “combined with a fixed base salary.”

According to FTV News, Howard’s monthly salary was around $200,000.

Howard is allegedly not very happy with this new plan and has spoken out against it to the media in Taiwan.

All of this has created more speculation that he will try to return to the NBA.


Just days ago, Howard said he’d play in the association again if given the chance.

He has kept his profile high since departing for Taiwan, doing many interviews and giving his insight into the league via multiple media outlets and social media.

Now that he is arguing with his team about his salary, Howard might try even harder to play in America again.

Howard hasn’t been hesitant about sharing his opinions on a number of subjects so you can bet he will continue to publicly talk about this too.

The post Dwight Howard’s Taiwan Team Reportedly Wants Him To Take A Pay Cut appeared first on The Cold Wire.


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Jamal Murray Has Passed Steph Curry In Finals History



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The Denver Nuggets are — obviously — Nikola Jokic’s team, and they’ll only go as far as their superstar can take them.

But Jamal Murray is no Robin to his Batman, at least not in the playoffs, as he’s been more of a 1B than a second-scoring option for Mike Malone’s teams.


As a matter of fact, the Canadian combo guard has been so spectacular in the NBA Finals, that he’s already passed Stephen Curry in career averages through their first three games at this stage.

According to StatMuse, Murray has averaged 26.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 10.0 assists per game on 51/38/91 shooting splits, while Curry averaged 24.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 6.3 dimes a game on 40/32/92 splits.

Moreover, Murray is now a year younger than Curry was in those NBA Finals, so maybe this could be the beginning of a new dynasty.

Of course, Murray isn’t on Steph Curry’s level yet — and chances are he never will be.

He’s very good in the regular season, but he hasn’t posted these kinds of numbers throughout his career; he’s more of a playoff performer than anything else.

Even so, it’s worth noting that the Denver Nuggets have now reached at least the Western Conference Finals twice with Murray and Jokic healthy and on the court, and they couldn’t find that same success when Murray was out with injuries.

Jokic and Murray have definitely made a case for being the best duo in the NBA right now, and the best part is that neither of them have reached their prime yet,


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Joe Burrow Continues To Dominate The NFL In Elite Category



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Not so long ago, the Cincinnati Bengals were far from a Super Bowl contender.

It all changed when they landed that No. 1 pick and got Joe Burrow, who didn’t need a lot of time to prove that he was special.


Burrow missed most of his rookie season after suffering a major knee injury, but he came back the next year to lead the franchise to the ultimate stage in his first full campaign under center.

Moreover, he’s led the league in passer rating since that 2021 season with a grade of 104.2, even better than Patrick Mahomes (101.8) and Aaron Rodgers (101.4).

The Bengals have done a great job of putting together a winning roster and fixing their issues every year since Burrow entered the league, but he’s the main reason behind that impressive culture turnaround.

He’s the most efficient and accurate passer in the league right now, and it’s not even close.


His ability to make reads in real-time and pickup defenses, extend plays, and hit his receivers in stride when the play is broken are second to none in today’s game.

Burrow was close to leading the Bengals to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, and he’s next in line to sign a massive contract extension.

He hasn’t been in the league for that long, but he’s already established himself as a top-5 passer in the game, and he might not be fourth or fifth, and the scariest part is that he’s still years away from reaching his prime and will only keep getting better.

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